The Potential of Oral Literacy for Empowerment
Many challenges face educational institutions today, but none is more challenging than the task of eliminating racial, ethnic, and academic inequities in education. As educational reforms pervade our nation’s schools, the formidable remnants of segregation still linger in classrooms. Research has focused on issues of segregation relative to marginalized populations of students such as tracking, high dropout rates, and test scores. This chapter, however, sheds light on a less researched form of segregation, that is, segregation as it relates to oral language. This chapter will examine oral language and its role as it relates to African American and other marginalized students and will discuss the following questions: What are some issues related to oral language that historically marginalized students face in schools? What have been the schools’ responses to differences in students’ language use? What can classroom teachers do to deal with students’ language differences and to facilitate productive interaction in classrooms?